"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (Isa. 64:6)
If our righteousness is like filthy rags to God, what in the world must our sins look like to Him? Much worse than what they look like to us, I’d wager. I have come to the conclusion that there may be less actual sins than some have claimed, but those things which actually are sinful are taken far too lightly. Some of us are like legislators who, instead of enforcing existing laws, find it easier to make new ones. I marvel sometimes at the blatant sin seen in the life of some believers. Not that they commit them (after all, the sinful nature is still alive and well), but the fact that they excuse them. Perhaps I should have enclosed the word "believers" in quotation marks.
It may be of interest us as women that Strong's Concordance identifies the word "filthy" found in this verse as coming from a Hebrew word meaning "menstruation," which should give us some idea of just how repulsive these rags really are. This should also lay to rest any notion that salvation can be obtained by any so-called righteous works, in any economy—New or Old Testament. We should remind ourselves, from time to time, that it was our sins (within our power), as well as our sinful nature (outside our power) that cost God the life of His Son. We may have received our sinful nature from our father, Adam; but with our salvation, we acquired a new nature: God's. And we now have the option of choosing or rejecting sin (Rom.6:16). We will never be sinless, till we are rid of this sinful flesh; but when we do sin, we should know this; it’s because we chose to.
When the prophet Isaiah saw God in all His glory, his first words were, "Woe is me! for I am undone." People with only a dim conception of God will always possess a distorted view of sin, as well. When we see Him as He truly is, and ourselves as we truly are, then we will recognize our sin, and call it for what it is.
Sin is the dare of God's justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.
— John Bunyan